The park and recreation community celebrates the lives of two individuals who dedicated themselves to the field and made immeasurable impacts on its development. Sharon Prete, longtime park and recreation director for the City of Round Rock, Texas, from 1980 until her retirement in 2005, passed away on September 11 at age 70. Throughout her career, Prete served in leadership positions with organizations such as the Texas Municipal League, Texas Amateur Athletic Foundation and Texas Recreation and Park Society. She was also an active member of NRPA. Upon her retirement, she founded the People and Parks Foundation to continue giving back to her profession, and in 2012, the Round Rock City Council honored her lifetime of service by naming the park plaza on Main Street after her.
Clement Lemire, 90, of Manchester, New Hampshire, passed away on November 3. Lemire’s career included leadership roles throughout New England; he was the first recreation director in Franklin, New Hampshire, the first recreation director in the Town of Newington, Connecticut, and the first Superintendent of the Manchester, New Hampshire, Parks and Recreation Department, serving the city for 29 years until his retirement in 1995. He was a member of NRPA and the New Hampshire Parks and Recreation Association and an Honorary Lifetime member of the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association (CRPA). He also served as president of CRPA in 1962 and won a CRPA annual citation in 1969. NRPA presented him with a Meritorious Special Service Award in 1995, and the New England District Council of NRPA awarded him Outstanding New England Recreation Director in 1972.
Both Prete and Lemire will be missed and remembered by their nationwide network of colleagues and friends.
The House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), H.R. 3080, by a vote of 417–3 late on October 23. The Senate approved its version of the bill in May. The act will provide support for water projects and studies, from navigational infrastructure to stream revitalization, at federal, state and local levels. For more details on this legislation, click here.
On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell launched a $100-million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program to fund science-based solutions to restore natural areas along the Atlantic Coast, helping to deliver on the Administration’s commitment in the Climate Action Plan to make local communities more resilient against future storms. The grant program, which will be administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will provide funding to continue the $480 million in investments that the Department of the Interior has already made in Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts since the storm hit last October.
After months of heated debate, Detroit’s beloved Belle Isle Park is now no longer under the supervision of the city’s recreation department. In early November, the state’s emergency loan board approved a deal for the state to operate the park, accepting a 30-year lease from the bankrupt city. As of February 2014, Belle Isle will be operated as a state park, the 102nd state park in Michigan.
Two California Park Rangers are being touted as heroes after helping to rescue a family stranded on a dangerous creek bank. Rangers at San Mateo County’s Memorial Park responded to the scene where a father and his two children were hiking off trail. While working their way down a steep embankment, the 4-year-old boy slipped and fell. The father also lost his footing in a subsequent rescue attempt, dislocating his shoulder in the process. The boy’s 6-year-old sister was left stranded at the top of the embankment, unable to help her family. Rangers arrived and waited with the girl until South Coast firefighters arrived on scene — they used ropes to pull father and son back up the hill and administered treatment for their injuries. Both were expected to make a full recovery.
Disabled children in New Jersey’s Morris County have some big supporters, both in stature and commitment. Members of the New York Jets and the NFL Foundation contributed $40,000 to the construction of a barrier-free, wheelchair-accessible playground at the county’s Central Park as part of a partnership with United Way of Northern New Jersey. The initiative is just one of about a dozen similar projects slated for construction across the state. Several Jets players attended an October groundbreaking celebration for the playground, meeting with special-needs children, signing autographs and even digging holes in preparation for tree plantings.
Montgomery County, Maryland, park managers have found a clever way to combine fitness, community outreach and stewardship with the Managers on Bikes program. Developed by Chief of the Southern Parks Division Bill Tyler, the initiative sees managers take to the county’s expansive trail system on sturdy bikes, rather than in lumbering trucks. The results: happy trail-goers and more attentive, engaged park managers. Traveling by bike allows an up-close look at the county’s eight bike/pedestrian trails that run through some 80,000 acres of parkland, so problems and maintenance issues can be resolved quickly. It’s also a great way to get to know the folks who enjoy the trail system, answer visitor questions and gain feedback for future improvements.
Officials at Chino Hills State Park in California are engaged in a continuing battle with some unwelcome bovine guests. Groups of feral cattle roam the 14,000-acre state park, engaging in behavior that challenges the popular conception of the docile barnyard creature. Dozens of tales from park visitors describe “mean,” “dangerous” and “terrifying” encounters with bulls and their harems, which often total a dozen cows or more. The big bulls meet noise, projectiles and other efforts to shoo them away with lazy indifference, sometimes advancing on hikers and park staff. Supervising Ranger Kelly Elliott has implored guests at her park to photograph and report sightings of the animals to help track their movements and “steer” visitors clear of any chance encounters.